That’s a pretty boring old title up there. Not sure if I’d open this post to be honest, unless I were thinking of buying a coverstitch machine, in which case: you’ve come to the right place, guvnor! I’ve been eyeing one up for quite some time, and my recent purchase happily coincided with plans to rustle up a few more knit basics, giving me the chance to combine both mildly interesting subjects into one marginally-more-interesting post. Buckle your seatbelts, sewists…
Coverstitch machine details
As you can see, I plumped for the Brother CV2340 coverstitch in the end. This means that I actually have the holy trinity of beginner machines, as it joins my Brother CS6000i sewing machine and Brother 1034D serger. I have had no issues at all with my regular machine, and I love my serger, so I figured the coverstitch was probably going to be okay too. Don’t get me wrong – they all shoogle around a bit and I’m glad nobody lives underneath me, but they’re reliable and they do the job.
Naturally, I did check out reviews of the main contenders in the low-price bracket, which is still more expensive than the low-price bracket for the other two categories of machine. The other possibilities were the Janome Cover Pro 900CPX and the Janome Cover Pro 1000CPX. The 900 didn’t seem too popular from what I read, so that was discounted fairly quickly. The 1000 got better reviews, but the cheapest I could find was in the $500-$600 range. The Brother CV2340 is around the $500 range as well, although I’d seen it down at $399 before, and it also had pretty good reviews.
Nevertheless, the coverstitch machine was, for me, definitely less of a necessity than either of my other two machines, (more of that later) so I hung on and hung on and then… one… day… I happened to be browsing Joann Fabrics and saw the CV2340 for $319 with free shipping! Okay, this was under my threshold price, so I bit the bullet and went for it. And I don’t think you will see it much (any) cheaper than that to be honest.
Why did you want it though, Claire?
Good question! Glad you asked. So here is the crux of the matter, and of course, your mileage may vary. I mostly wanted a coverstitch because I hate doing multiple hems and sleeves, etc. on knits with a twin needle and regular machine. I’ve got my twin needling down pretty well, but it still requires rethreading, testing the needle, changing my bobbin case, usually adding the walking foot – all of which is kind of okay – but not if I’m making a ton of t-shirts for my kid or similar. Tees and sweatshirts are the most needed and most gratefully received items of clothing for my husband and son, but it’s really a bit of a pain switching between the two. You’ll hear about people who get a combi serger-coverstitch machine and then never change the setting because it’s a royal pain in the arse. Same thing.
The other issue is that my threads do still snap sometimes. No matter how well I’ve got the twin needle working, it does still happen sometimes. And yes, also with zigzag and stretch stitch. And my regular machine won’t take woolly nylon at ALL, so that’s another option out of the window.
A few nice extras are things like decorative coverstitch on seams (as above on a jumper I made last week) and, once I figure out how to do it, using the coverstitch to put elastic on underwear nice and effectively, as well as attaching binding and rib (witchcraft territory) Which brings me neatly to…
Enough waffle – how’s it going and is it worth it?
Okay then. The nitty-gritty. First things first – this is a much easier machine to thread than a serger. A serger isn’t even that bad really, but this is just two (or three) threads to the needle and then one looper thread, which just goes through a series of hooks really. Easy peasy. I was a little unsure where the end of the looper thread went, but you just sort if drop it inside the casing, right by the last hook. Weird.
The tricky bit about coverstitching is the end of the process. You do cut off the threads at the end of stitching, unlike serging, but you have to do it in the right way or your thread will potentially unravel allllll the way back to the beginning right in front of your pretty little eyes. Scratch that – it WILL unravel until at least once or twice before you get the hang of it. Gah. There are lots of different ways to get to the point where you can safely knot it, and I have tried a few now. This is my favourite method, shown admirably and quickly by Tara Lee.
You can use a three thread stitch or a two thread (like the twin needle effect) for basic hemming which is mostly what I’ve been doing and you can vary how wide your two-needle stitch is by choosing different needle positions.
The other really useful feature of the coverstitch machine is the differential feed, which allows you to adjust the speed at which your fabric is pulled through the machine, and therefore avoid any pulling or stretching that is inevitable with some fabrics on a regular machine.
Is it worth it? Overall, for me – YES. If you like to use knits a lot and prefer a twin-needle type finish, then I think it saves you time, effort and produces a better finish. It is absolutely not a necessity, but I think for the price point, this is a good machine and I’m looking forward to seeing what else I can do with it. The idea of hemming knits did make me slightly procrastinate when it came to running up t-shirts in the past, and I have no such problem now.
I will report back in a month or two when I’ve had a chance to get more practice under my belt and see where we are!
My TNT garments
Pretty much a sidenote in this post, but these are the TNTs I made and used the coverstitch with. Two more Deer and Doe Plantain tees, which I’ve been meaning to do forever. One in a soft black rib knit I got from a Knitpop surprise package, and the other a wonderful Euro knit in forest green by Verson Puoti, which I got from Jumping June Textiles.
In case there’s anyone left on this planet who hasn’t heard of/sewn this tee before, the Plantain is a free pattern from Deer and Doe and it’s great!! It comes in a short and long-sleeved version and the killer thing about it is its slight flare from waist down, providing a little relief for those of us with extra hip or (in my case) a protruding belly. I also greatly like the scoopneck, which is a perfect depth for my shape.
I also made two skirts. One was another version of this Simplicity 1072 skirt which is one of my most-worn items ever. A perfect not-too-tight but still pencil skirt and so, so simple to make. I made this one in a really, really weird fabric I got back in my totally newbie days and when it arrived it was nothing like I was expecting. It’s a spongey knit which has strange mottled arrows that feel kind of plasticky on the outside (see below), is definitely not a natural product and is almost certainly very flammable. I was expecting this to go in the rubbish bin to be honest, and it might still, but when I grabbed it for these pics it wasn’t quite as bad to wear as I remember. Let’s see…
Finally I had another crack at the Colette Mabel skirt. This didn’t go wonderfully last time, but mostly because I chose unwisely in terms of fabric. Not enough recovery and strength last time, but on this occasion all was well. I used the remnants of the sweatshirt fabric I used for Tom’s Ottobre Cloud Grey jumper, and a tiny little scrap of cherry cotton lycra for the waistband facing, which curled like a bugger, but pleases me greatly as a contrast peek.
I also made the mini version this time. I had no choice really, owing to the small amount of fabric I had and, despite my fears, it actually ended up being a good length on me. My only complaint is that because there’s no elastic in the waistband, my skirt does tend to stretch and start to slide down after a wear or two. Again, properties of the fabric, but I would consider adding a channel and some elastic next time, depending on what I used.
These are all simple items, but I know I’m going to wear them tons. I actually made the Mabel skirt during Me-Made May and it was worn on a regular rotation immediately. Now with a coverstitch machine, it makes the process so quick and easy, it doesn’t eat into the time I need for my more “exciting” projects any more than it needs to. All in all, a happy camper!